Two and a half hours of hold music. I think Southwest does it on purpose so frustrated travelers have a chance to cool down. It worked for me. By the time a real person answered he was surprised that I calmly requested a refund for my cancelled flight rather demand he change the weather.
I don’t usually fly from Chicago to Cleveland, I drive six hours or brave the Megabus for longer. Yet the promise of an efficient one-hour trip and free drink tickets lured me in for Christmas travel. It was only drizzling in Ohio, but winter storm Goliath was pummeling Chicago’s airports with a violent ice-hail combination.
Travelers all over the country were stranded or worse. Still, I found it outrageous that I had no flight options for nearly three days. I had to get back to work. Even more frustrating was the lack of someone to speak with for guidance. My hold time kept getting pushed back. I was seething with hopelessness.
Fortunately, my dad saved the day (again). My one-hour flight became a six-hour trek into the downpour as he offered to drive me all the way back to Chicago. By the time Southwest finally answered, we were already hitting the road.
Instead of drowning out wailing infants with my ear buds, I listened to some of dad’s wild stories from “the old neighborhood.” We snacked on homemade cheeses from Ohio’s Amish Country. We listened to blues and chatted with my sister about her Christmas among the elephants of Arkansas. When we finally arrived, a deep dish pizza was waiting.
As much as I enjoy travel, I point out that it rarely goes according to plan. Years from now, I probably won’t remember which presents I got this Christmas but I won’t forget forging into a storm with my dad. Even when the itinerary gets mixed up, the people in my life make the ride worthwhile.